Ooltewah hung on to the top spot in this week's Nooga Nine rankings, while Howard, which has won six straight, moved up to No. 2. East Hamilton, which has strung together eight in a row, moved up five spots, while Bradley Central returns to the rankings for the first time since early December.
1. Ooltewah (13-4)
After suffering consecutive losses to McCallie and Notre Dame to close out 2012, the Owls have strung together three straight wins. Last week they captured wins over Soddy Daisy and Hardin Valley, and Ooltewah took down McMinn County on Tuesday. The Owls return to action Friday at District 5-AAA foe Rhea County.
2. Howard (12-3)
Howard is on a roll. The Hustlin’ Tigers, who haven’t lost since their 55-50 setback to Oakland on Dec. 27 at the Sonic Shootout in Sparta, Tenn., have won six straight, including victories over District 6-AA rivals Brainerd and Tyner. Howard, which crushed Red Bank 79-44 on Tuesday, plays at CSAS on Friday.
3. Central (11-4)
The Pounders’ seven-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday with their loss at Brainerd. The Panthers, responsible for two of Central's four losses on the season, cruised to a 71-49 rout over the Pounders, who return to their home court Friday against Hixson.
4. East Hamilton (12-3)
The Hurricanes haven’t lost since their 59-36 defeat at Brainerd on Dec. 11 — the team’s only District 6-AA loss of the season. East Hamilton has captured eight consecutive victories, including impressive home wins over McCallie and Tyner. The 'Canes, who host the Scenic City Showcase this weekend, resume district play Jan. 22 against Brainerd.
5. McCallie (8-7)
The Blue Tornado is just 2-5 since its Best of Preps Tournament Championship to close out 2012. In that stretch, McCallie has suffered Division II-AA East/Middle Region losses to Father Ryan and Battle Ground Academy. The Blue Tornado returns to action Friday when it hosts Ensworth.
6. Baylor (8-5)
The Red Raiders are in the midst of a two-game skid, which includes a 25-point blowout loss at Howard and a 48-39 defeat at Division II-AA East/Middle Region foe Father Ryan on Jan. 11. Baylor returns to the court Friday at home against Pope John Paul II, and it travels to Bradley Central next Tuesday.
7. Tyner (8-6)
The Rams suffered a 71-69 loss at District 6-AA opponent East Hamilton on Tuesday, which came after a 50-46 setback at rival Howard last Saturday. Tyner, which hasn’t won since its South Pittsburg Christmas Tournament Championship, takes on rival Brainerd on Friday. The Rams suffered a 60-56 loss to the Panthers on Dec. 14.
8. Notre Dame (12-7)
The Fighting Irish snapped its two-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 83-49 win at District 7-AA opponent Grundy County. Prior to Tuesday’s win, Notre Dame had dropped a pair of district games at Sequatchie County and Signal Mountain. The Irish conclude its four-game road swing with Friday’s game at Bledsoe County, which defeated Notre Dame 57-55 on Dec. 4.
9. Bradley Central (10-8)
The Bears return to the rankings for the first time since early December. Bradley Central rolled to a convincing 59-44 win over rival Cleveland on Tuesday. The Bears have won five in a row starting with their Jan. 5 over White County, and they’ve captured four straight District 5-AAA victories. They travel to district foe Soddy Daisy on Friday.